The 2011 NBA draft should have some Canadian flavour.
Brampton’s Tristan Thompson and Pickering’s Cory Joseph, of the Texas Longhorns, announced on Friday that they will submit their names for the draft but not sign with an agent.
That means they have until May 8th to decide if they are in or will return to school.
Both had excellent freshman seasons, Thompson led Texas in rebounding (7.8), blocks (86) double-doubles (10 and field goal percentage (.546) and was second in scoring at 13.1 per game.
“This was a difficult decision, but it was the best decision for myself and my family,” Thompson said in a release. “I will continue to go to class and complete the spring semester here at Texas. I will continue to gather all the information about my draft status and use that information over the next two weeks to determine whether or not to keep my name in the draft.”
It would be a huge shock if Thompson decides to stay in Austin.
Draft Express and Chad Ford of ESPN.com both believe Thompson will go in the mid-to-late lottery.
The last Canadians to be drafted in the first round were Samuel Dalembert (born in Haiti, raised in Montreal, 26th in 2001), Toronto’s Jamaal Magloire (19th in 2000) and Victoria’s Steve Nash (15th in 1996).
Joseph’s decision was more surprising. Scouts have said he needs more time to develop and it is still not clear what position he would play in the NBA.
The 2012 draft is considered stacked though, so though he isn’t as polished as he will be a year from now, Joseph could well go higher this time around.
That’s the thinking for Thompson, since potential top five big men Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III have all returned to school.
Joseph averaged 10.4 points per game, 3.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and shot .413 from three.
“I want to use this two-week period of time to get a better feel of what my draft status would be this year,” Joseph said via release. “I will finish my classes here, hopefully go through some workouts for NBA teams and personnel and use feedback from those workouts to make the best decision.”
Joseph and Thompson’s former Findlay Prep teammate Avery Bradley, also a former Texas player, was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 19th pick of the 2010 draft but got into only 31 games as a rookie, averaging 5.3 minutes per game.
It was expected that Thompson and Joseph’s former Grassroots Canada AAU teammate Olu Ashaolu of Toronto would also announce he’d enter the draft without an agent on Friday, but no decision has yet been officially revealed.
Ashaolu, though raw, was a double-double machine at Louisiana Tech. and has NBA-calibre athleticism.
He averaged 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds as a junior. The year before he averaged 10.7 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Ashaolu posted a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double against Thompson (who had 17 seven) in the season opener and had 16 double-doubles on the season.
During the NCAA tournament, Thompson had told reporters he was coming back to Texas, in large part to play with good friend Myck Kabongo, of Toronto.